13 Dec 2014

It's a wonderful life (by Nomad Cinema); yes it is, indeed.

After suffering from a cold for days unfortunately, I just got recovered by seeing the movie. Yes, 'no man is a failure who has friends.' (It's a Wonderful Life, 1946, directed by Frank Capra)

If there's a chance, I utterly absolutely indeed recommend to see it in a cinema, with good audience who clap their hands to thank to the truly wonderful movie. Today's fantastic event was was organised by the Nomad Cinema, who is supposed to donate 100% of their profits to The Sustainability Institute a pioneering environmental and educational charity in South Africa.
It's a Wonderful Life by The Nomad Cinema at the Look Out in the Hyde Park.
Indeed it is one of the best movies to wish a merry Christmas. The ending is so beautiful and heartwarming and the performance by James Stewart is just incredible. Just for my foot note, I did not know the fact that Frank Capra was from Sicily, Italy, like Giuseppe Tornatore, who directed Cinema Paradiso. I see they believed in the power of cinema, arguably.

6 Dec 2014

Learning Ruby on Rails

As I have been managing the company website, I realised I have to learn basics of web development. Therefore, last weekend, I joined a two-day workshop by Codecourse, which was a great opportunity to practically learn how to code with Ruby on Rails. This is my work-in-progress web applications.

It was really worthwhile course; what I essentially learnt was following:
  • All the important setups for web application development: online console by Nitrous, html and CSS frameworks by Bootstrap, online application platform by Heroku, Static Maps API by Google maps, voice and SMS APIs by Nexmo,  some gems in Github, and online e-commerce platform by Stripe.
  • How to practically develop (1) a personal website, (2) a web app to record locations and display in the map, (3) a web app to send a SMS text message, (4) a web app to upload pictures and purchase an order online, and (5) a web app to post status updates. So basically they are what you do mostly online nowadays (i.e. Wordpress or blogging, Messenger, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter etc.).
  • While following instructions by the organiser and facing unexpected errors, essentially my learning was about how to identify an error (mostly typo or undefined class or method) and how to crack it mostly by yourself.
Nitrous' console image
The following is my personal memo on the very basics on Ruby on Rails so that I would not forget about it at all.
  • To create a new project, command 'rails new the_name_of_the_project'. After run 'cd mysite", type 'rails server' starts the server so that you can check your code updates in your browser.
  • application.html enables every page to contain the same code that is in the application.html.
  • To add a new page, (1) open the routes.rb file in the config folder, (2) open the static_pages_controller.rb in app/controllers/, and (3) create a new file under the static_page folder.
  • To use Bootscamp CSS, first you have to copy Bootstrap CDN to the application.html.erb.
  • After you install in Gemfile (c.f. gem is a function defined/developed by someone already, e.g. Devise: sign-in and sign-up/authentication), you have to stop the server (Ctrl+c) and then run the "bundle install" command to reflect the changes while.
  • To upload updated pages, command (1)"cd the_name_of_the_project", (2) "git add . ", (3) "git commit -m"Finished the project", (4)"git push heroku master".
  • To create a database, run 'rails generate scaffold the_name_of_database', followed by name and definition of each column. (e.g. 'rails generate scaffold location name:string address:string latitude:float longitude:float')

3 Dec 2014

34 countries visited so far, outnumbering my age at least

When counted, quite unexpectedly, 34 countries have been visited; moreover, I stayed at least one night (usually more) in 32 of them (two exceptions are Ukraina in Aug 2014 and Vatican in Sep 2014). 7 were added in the last summer's trans-Eurasia honeymoon trip. On the other hand, this year I have added Norway only, which was part of my MBA's Global Consulting Project, indeed.

I have never thought about such a travelling-the-world life before entering the university as an undergraduate (10+ years ago!!). However, south America, most of Africa, Middle East, and Central Asia are still missing. I should visit at least one new country each year so that the number can keep outnumbering my age.

24 Nov 2014

UK's new initiative for digital entrepreneurship: Digital Business Academy

Online course for free by Judge and UCL; I've got to sign up to see whether the MBA (esp. Marketing) was worth paying for the high tuition.
The Digital Business Academy, a joint venture by Cambridge university’s Judge Business School, UCL, Tech City and start-up course designer Founder Centric (FT, 2014)

Two of the world’s top academic institutions (i.e. Cambridge Judge Business School and University College London*) decided to start free online courses of business topic** for 'those that have shunned formal education in favour of entrepreneurship to obtain some formal business training'. (FT, 2014)

* Where are other two?
**The list as of today covers eight courses:
  1. Size up your idea
  2. Set up a digital business
  3. Develop and Manage a digital product
  4. Make a marketing plan
  5. Build a brand
  6. Understand Digital Marketing Channels
  7. Run a digital marketing campaign
  8. Master finance for your business
Financial Times. Online course opens to sharpen start-up minds. 19 Nov 2014. Available from: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/bc7f0ca2-6e70-11e4-afe5-00144feabdc0.html

23 Nov 2014


Admittedly, the story was a bit long and ended too happily? But that is not the point of the film. I would say, the story (e.g. going through a wormhole to reach another galaxy) and characters (e.g. the captain's son, Dr. Mann, etc.) were rather made up and thoughtfully ordered to just let a person (and a machine) going beyond the event horizon into the black hole (and somehow, however weirdly, he has not experienced 'spaghettification' by the strong gravity of the black hole). Period.
I know people love spacecrafts, but this was not super cool unfortunately.
Our imagination is highly bounded in timespace, or three dimensions and time. This film at least tried to reconstruct the boundaries of audience's imagination. Also, it amazingly showed how a film can show the advanced science of modern physics into the screen (of course with its budget of $160 million and more).

The last quarter or half hour or so was just amazingly structured to put all the mysterious pieces/scenes into one great big, clear picture on how this film ends. That part made it worth seeing the bit boring first half of the film. As some said, a good Science Fiction is also a good Mystery, indeed.

Might be a good idea to see 9 films that inspired the director. I should start with Metropolis as it was also recommended in the Film History evening classes at Imperial College London, as it affected a lot of science fiction films, notably Blade Runner.
    1. Star Wars (1977)
    2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
    4. Alien (1979)
    5. Metropolis (1927)
    6. Blade Runner (1982)
    7. The Right Stuff (1983)
    8. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
    9. The Mirror (1975)
    * Happy is here half questioned because all the scenes after the event horizon could be just an imaginary memory of the farmer-turn-back-pilot who dreams a feasible return to the earth to see his daughter. Who knows?

    20 Nov 2014

    SVC2UK 2014

    The theme of this year's Silicon Valley Comes to the UK was a bit scattered, at least to me, compared with the last year's focus on med tech and how to cope with chronic diseases in the advance economy. I got some good hints on how da hardware startup should grow and learn its operational capability throughout the years of its journey to scaling up abroad. Note: it will take long time (5-10 years to become sustainable) so you'd better be prepared for the longevity.

    Walking through St. John's College early in the morning, while developing my thoughts as follows.

    Another personal finding is that I would not be able to like the Silicon Valley's culture of 'hyper high tension'. It is way too much for me, or I just became too old or introversial to accept it. I do understand that kind of way of making a rather emotional momentum in the market would do good for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who want money.

    However so, for example, why people think Uber is changing the world? By utilising unutilised vehicles for the era of new sharing economy? As far as people move around, however, the energy consumption would be more or less same. Its $17 bn valuation, or value will be just captured from other transportation modes, unless it starts transportation services by self-drive car, which will be totally something new and existing service providers won't start as it is too risky and legally unclear who in the end is responsible and liable for any damage a self-drive car makes.

    From Uber's blog:
    We have some exciting news to share this morning. We have just closed a financing round with some of the leading investors in the world, raising $1.2B of primary capital at a $17B pre-money valuation. The total raise will be about $1.4B with a second close of strategic investors soon. We are thrilled to have top tier institutional investors, mutual funds, private equity and venture capital partners joining us.

    14 Nov 2014

    The Imitation Game

    We saw the film in the first day of its running. It was a good entertainment film for a Friday evening, but not a thing that moves you, indeed. I enjoyed how Benedict plays one of the most intelligent people the world once had (and miserably lost). Frankly speaking, without Benedict Cumberbatch, the storytelling was rather boring and could not go beyond my expectation. Yes, maybe I was not the target audience of the film, since I am a big fan of Turing Machine etc. as a Science Fiction lover.

    The Imitation Game (3.5 stars out of 5)

    13 Nov 2014

    Seed funding situation in the UK 2014 Q1

    According to Beauhurst's Equity Investment Review (free part), in 2014 Q1,
    there were 72 deals at the seed-stage and investment amounts were disclosed for 46 of these, totaling £52m.
    So the simple average was £1.13m per seed deal, which seems a quite reasonable target for us after a year or so. What's more, 14 deals were done by Crowdcube and Jenson Seed EIS Fund, managed by Jenson Solutions. I am not familiar with those guys, so I should follow up those two key players.

    Other VCs, including venture or growth investment players, mentioned in the report are Business Growth Fund, Index Ventures, Albion Ventures, Balderton Capital, Accel Partners. The Cambridge MBA programme had exposure to Index Ventures and Accel Partners, if I remember correctly. Not too bad.

    4 Nov 2014

    What's different between entrepreneurs and turnaround managers?

    As I worked in a boutique consulting firm which is good at a hands-on turnaround of a distressed firm, I have witnessed successes and failures of several turnaround managers. Now I step into an entrepreneurial world, I just summarise how I learnt would be beneficial to my entrepreneurial career going forward.

    Entrepreneurs and turnaround managers appear quite different; however some important characteristics would be shared: especially, both of them have to demonstrate strong leadership to face and overcome difficult situations.

    What is different?
    • Obviously, entrepreneurs are those who make one from zero, while turnaround managers are who turn minus into plus. Especially in the initial phase, turnaround managers would focus on streamlining existing operations and cost bases, while entrepreneurs try and error how to make revenues.
    • In other words, turnaround managers have to decide which existing business, products, and customers to be terminated; whilst entrepreneurs have to figure out where to start its business.
    • Entrepreneurs can do hands-on management on everyday operations as the size of the team should be small; yet turnaround managers usually have to manage multiple layers in the organisation which could have several hundreds or more employees. How to mobilise the organisational, or internal, resources  is a key for successful turnaround managers; while how to leverage external networks of different expertise is required for successful entrepreneurs. 

    What is shared?
    • Sooner or later, business development, or how to make revenues, is essentially crucial to grow the company (for the first time, or again), which should deliver a good momentum among employees. Without such a momentum, initial enthusiasm will be fade out or worn out.
    • It is all about how to attract, engage, and motivate people involved; both entrepreneurs and turnaround managers have to make stakeholders believe that the company will become successful in a short time-frame. Thus a deep understanding of the nature of stakeholders are necessary to be successful.
    • Both are financially restricted very much; so a well-balanced control of money is beneficially to the firm, whetherever it is in the early development phase or distress.
    • Everyone is neither perfect nor a superstar, therefore a team of management, especially how top two or three people interact and communicate, would determine the success or failure of the firm.
    This view should be changed after my entrepreneurial journey, which I look forward to experiencing now!!

    I hope I won't die like this, after working too hard and long :-p

    1 Nov 2014

    Who do we think we are?

    When I was in Japan, I used to watch plays at theatre every two to three months. Yet this was for the first time in the UK. This opportunity came from a network of my high school; one of the actors is my senior, senpai, who is very attractive and charming; I want to be like him after 30 years.

    The play is about different lives from 1914 to 2014, the period when people experienced a bunch of cruel wars, ideological conflicts, changes of social cultures. It was like condensing 10 stories of 100 years each (or 1,000 years in total) into just 2 hours. For example, it featured WWI (trenches in France, Siberia camp etc.), the communist revolution in East Europe, WWII (the ghetto by Nazi, atomic bomb at Nagasaki, India and Gandhi etc.), Woodstock, Apollo on the moon, Vietnam war, and even dementia issues at NHS. It gave me a real touch of the world's 'history'. Maybe only lacking viewpoints were about Africa and China.

    While seeing it, I just wondered what my great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers was doing in 1914, when the WWI commenced. They should have been doing something alive, otherwise I won't be able to be here now:-p I have to question my parents and uncle/aunt about it.
    The poster of 'Who do we think we are?'

    23 Oct 2014

    Most useful tags in HTML

    A memo from Tech Society session; most useful tags in HTML:

    • <a> link to other pages etc
    • <link> link to an external style sheet
    • <ol> ordered list
    • <ul> unordered list
    • <li> each bullet in the list
    • <p> paragraph
    • <div> division
    • <img> load an image
    • <script> use other languages such as Javascript
    • <form> declare a form such as to send information
    • <input> an input for a form

    8 Oct 2014

    talks.cam is one of the best tools to find peculiar scientific talks in Cambridge

    Thanks to talk.cam, I joined a lot of talks on scientific talks. This is highly recommended to those who want to join a lot of talks in different colleges in Cambridge, or even when you are fed up with your course readings. You will get new ideas of the world, or even may encounter an entrepreneurial opportunity.

    How easy to register? Very and actually open to everyone, not exclusive to Cambridge studetns. Just make your own list from here and subscribe it via ical/vcal in the list page: http://talks.cam.ac.uk/list/new
    and add talks you find interesting through the search engine: http://talks.cam.ac.uk/search
    and/or add (Like Follow in Twitter) other's list. For example, I've followed:

    Cambridge is definitely a cluster of creativity.

    27 Sep 2014

    Moved out of Cambridge to London; whatever you end up doing, love it.

    Whatever you end up doing, love it. (Cinema Paradiso)
    Open air cinema organised by The Nomad Cinema: 'Cinema Paradiso', the best loving movie with fantastic musics. 
    And our new life started here in London:
    The entrance of our new accommodation in London.

    9 Sep 2014

    Six key entrepreneurial opportunities in Cambridge

    Three very important, at least to me, communities you should try all if you pursue entrepreneurial course and three more stimulating events for networking.

    Opportunities to work as a team:

    i-Teams: every term (Michaelmas, Lent, Easter) 3-4 teams of 5-6 postgraduate students each are formed to develop a strategy on how to commercialise a cutting-edge technology that is developed in Cambridge. This was where I met the inventor and my co-founders. The final presentations are open to the public, and thus there comes local angeles. Note that you have to go through the application process with submitting your CV and cover letter.

    CUE (Cambridge University Entrepreneurs): there are famous £100, £1K, £10K competitions for which entrepreneurs try their ideas, business concepts, and business plans. These competition allow entrepreneurs to make a good pace of developing an idea into a solid business plan. You may submit an idea as an individual, but for business concept and plan you will need a team.

    Accelerate Cambridge: even it is quite new to the history of Judge Business School, the accelerator has gained good attention among entrepreneurs. Theirs training sessions as well as free coachings have been quite helpful to get start-ups in very early phase. They may provide a seed funding up to £20K. This is not open to everyone as you have to pass an interview by the coordinator.

    Opportunities to join exciting talks and discussions:

    CUTEC (Cambridge University Technology and Enterprise Club): its Technology Venture Conference is one of the biggest tech and entrepreneurial events in Cambridge. As ARM is the main sponsor of this club, there should be a talk by Hermann Hauser (ARM co-founder), which I highly recommend to join if any.

    Silicon Valley Comes to UK: this holds a three-day event where entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from Silicon Valley conduct a bunch of talks and sessions for entrepreneurs as well as students in Cambridge and London.

    Innovation Forum: it was new to Cambridge last year. The one-day event was interesting and a good opportunity for networking.

    The Cambridge Phenomenon: a great guidebook to understand the Cambridge cluster further in depth.

    8 Sep 2014

    The Oxbridge ways / オックスブリッジの流儀

    The Japanese series about 'Oxbridge ways' are now on the Internet here.
    I may be able to contribute in the future.

    現代ビジネスのオンライン企画として、「オックスブリッジの流儀」という連載が始まりました。Cambridge MBAの同期もさっそく原稿を書いています。「友がみなわれよりえらく見ゆる日」でもありますが、ワタクシも実世界で何かしらの花を咲かしてからしたしもうと思います。

    The Cam River and Silicon Fen.

    3 Sep 2014

    Get busy living

    The feeling of disappointment, out of unsuccessful MPhil/PhD applications, has gone in a few days, implying I might not have been utterly serious about it. Anyway, I couldn't make it on the way to academic research of management, which I felt like doing so for months. This, notwithstanding, surprisingly yet ironically encouraged me to do my best in the management of real businesses; a startup with Cambridge PhD guys.

    Life goes on; I will keep moving to 'get busy living' rather than 'busy dying'.
    What would I carve after all? Probably nothing other than my name and what I love.

    1 Sep 2014

    Done!! and moving to London soon

    Today 2pm, the final assignment for Cambridge MBA has been done. In two weeks or so, we will move to London. Nevertheless, it has been absolutely unique and great fun to live in Cambridge.
    I won't forget the room and house where I stayed with my partner while Cambridge MBA.

    24 Aug 2014

    Photos from our London/Cambridge trip

    Photos from our London/Cambridge/(Stonehenge) trip with our family members who came all over from Tokyo and Hiroshima, Japan.

    Stonehenge in the rain
    A Road To The Buckingham Palace, London.
    A London view from London Bus.
    The Tower Bridge seen from its beneath.
    The Tower Bridge viewed from Thames River Cruise, London.
    BBC Proms at the beautiful Royal Albert Hall, London.
    The British Museum and the national flag.
    The colour-changing wall at St John's College, Cambridge
    The King's Chapel, Cambridge, seen while punting and later auto-awesomed by Google.
    The inside of the Bridge of Sighs, St John's College, Cambridge
    Pipe Organ in the King's College Chapel, Cambridge.
    The Cam River view from a room in Hilton Doubletree Cambridge.
    Speedy's, London, a famous cafe for Sherlock fans.
    The main building of the University College London.

    9 Aug 2014

    Cambridge Summer School 2014: Science II and Interdisciplinary III

    I have been enjoying the International Summer Schools (Science II and Interdisciplinary III) at the University of Cambridge. The best course was an introduction to cryptography, taught by the guy who did podcasting Quite Easily Done.
    The Enigma , a famous ciphering machine used in WWII by Germany and deciphered by Alan Turing etc.
    There are quite a few virtual Enigma online: this is good to understand the inside mechanism.
    Some other photos on beautiful sunny days in Cambridge.

    A beautiful summer day at the Newman College's Garden 
    The Old Lab for female scientist in the past days, Newman College
    The Fen on a sunny day
    Cambridge cows taking a rest under a tree
    MAA Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

    8 Aug 2014

    Will the current deficit become structural in Japan?

    The trend of Japan's negative current account, as recorded in the first half of 2014 for the first time since 1980s, seems worsening and it will be becoming quite possible to demonstrate annual current deficit in 2014, or a few years later maybe. So my answer to the title question is, within a few years, definitely yes.

    Trading Balance in 2013 showed Food (JPY -6 trillion), Raw materials (-4), and Mineral fuels (-25) are the sources of the trade deficit; and the import of Electric machinery increased fur more than the once strong export of that. These trends won't change drastically for coming years unless all the nuclear power plant reboot, which is quite unrealistic if you see the current slow debate on the new regulations.
    Trading Balance in 2013 by principal commodity (In JPY Million)

    To sum up, the increase of imported goods and services have been dragging down the Japanese economy by more than 1 p.p. in Q1 2014, according to the latest OECD statistics. Some would say that this should not be necessarily the negative sign for Japan, since the Japanese manufacturers have been applying to the model of producing abroad and marketing abroad, instead of the conventional model of producing domestically and marketing abroad. Yet, the current deficit suggests the income surplus from such out-out transactions are not sufficient for making up the trade deficit by importing basic goods and decreasing exports from Japan.

    And in case of the structural current deficit, the only way to finance the government piling its debt more than JPY 1K trillion is to ask foreign players to buy the JGB more. Would it really be manageable by them?

    Ministry of Finance, Japan
    Japan logs largest six-month current account deficit ever | The Japan Times:

    13 Jul 2014

    The Centre for Computing History

    The voluntarily-run museum is a bit away from the city centre, but really worth visiting if you play with computers such as:
    Punch cards for the IBM computers in the 70s
    MSX by Toshiba in 1984
    The 'Woz Edition' Apple II GS
    NES playing the Super Mario Bros!!
    Family Computer we played a lot when elementary school. 
    Yet, do not use a laptop too long in the restroom :-)

    7 Jul 2014

    Photos de Le Tour de France 2014 via Cambridge

    Sidney Street, Cambridge
    A few hours to the start
    Almost there!!
    They have come through!! 
    The Team Sky car got the SKY numberplate.
    Crowded in front of the King's College Chapel.
    Crowded in front of the King's College Chapel.
    Still lots of people around the Magdalen Bridge